THE GREATEST HITS SESSIONS:
Dates: July - August 2003
Players: Flea, John Frusciante, Chad Smith, Anthony Kiedis.
Additional Performers: None known, apart from a variety of wind instrument session players.
Recorded at: The Mansion, 2451 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA.
Produced by: Rick Rubin
Engineered by: David Schiffman, Greg Fidelman
Mixed by: Richard Dodd / some tracks unmixed
Released on: Yet to be released in-full. See below.
released as a standalone single and on the Greatest Hits compilation in November 2003
Save The Population
released on the Greatest Hits compilation in November 2003
The Bicycle Song
released as bonus tracks on By the Way in 2006 on online stores
leaked to the internet in unmixed, instrumental form in 2014
Rolling Sly Stone
Leverage of Space
Mini Epic (Kill For Your Country)
The band went into The Mansion (where they recorded Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Stadium Arcadium) to record an extra song or two for a greatest hits release in summer 2003. While they were there, an unexpected wave of productivity and creativity hit them, and they ended up recording the basic tracks of approximately fifteen songs instead. However, only a handful of songs were completed.
Here’s what we know:
Fortune Faded and Save The Population were released as part of the Greatest Hits campaign in 2003. An early version of Fortune Faded (with a different chorus) was recorded during the By the Way sessions.
The Bicycle Song and Runaway were released as digital bonus tracks for By the Way in 2006; at the time there was no word that these tracks were actually from the Greatest Hits sessions, but thanks to some subsequent revelations that information has come to light.
Rolling Sly Stone and Leverage of Space were played live in 2004, and versions of those tracks were released on the Live in Hyde Park compilation later that year. Another track, Mini Epic (Kill For Your Country) was played live in 2004, but a recording of it was not released officially until 2015. There was initially some confusion regarding when these songs were written; if they were written and recorded in 2003, why didn’t the band play them in the later half of 2003 - why wait until a year later? However, a few interviews with Chad in recent years has confirmed they were recorded during the Greatest Hits sessions.
50/Fifty and Starlight leaked in 2014, sourced from an in-house CD-R. They are instrumental; if they were ever finished is unknown. Also on that CD-R was a few different versions of Runaway.
The band performed a cover of the Looking Glass hit Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) during those 2004 shows, but according to Chad, did not record a studio version of the song. The band only decided to cover the track in 2004, after the summer 2003 recording sessions.
Now for the unconfirmed information:
In February 2006 a fan on the stadium-arcadium.com forum spoke to Flea at a benefit for the Silverlake Conservatorium of Music and reported this afterwards:
"I inquired whether they had recorded studio versions of Rolling Sly Stone, Leverage of Space, Mini-Epic, Brandy, etc. He seemed surprised I knew about their existence, and I told him I'd been at Hyde Park. He said they recorded them back during the Greatest Hits session, intending to put them on a new record. But, then Stadium Arcadium came around. As Flea was walking past, Anthony asked him what they were doing with the aforementioned songs. Flea mentioned there was another song called Desiree they'd recorded as well."
Of course, Desiree may well turn out to be another name for Starlight or 50Fifty. Chad didn’t recognise the name when asked about it in 2017.
The amount of songs recorded is also unknown. Chad stated in 2013 that the band recorded fifteen or sixteen basic tracks, but Anthony only finished vocals for "six or seven" (though in 2017 he changed that second figure to nine). He went on to say that the songs were scrapped entirely after John decided the music didn't fit his current way of playing; the band went on to write new music and release it in 2006 on Stadium Arcadium.
It is our hope that a boxset or archival release will one day shed more light on these recordings.
DOWNLOAD THREE OF THE TRACKS HERE.